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Title: Advancing to Recombinant Heparin
Recombinant heparin is produced by genetically engineered cells and provides an alternative to the current animal derived heparin.
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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
American pharmaceutical review
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
10 - 14
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. Background: Although most biologics are produced using recombinant technologies, heparin persists as a product purified from animal tissues. A cell based system for production of heparin would eliminate risk of supply shortage and contamination. Additionally, genetic engineering could yield heparin with improved qualities such as reduced risk of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. Aims: This work is focused on engineering mammalian cell lines and bioprocess methods to produce recombinant heparin. Methods: The heparan sulfate biosynthetic pathway of mastocytoma cells was genetically engineered to alter the expression of heparan sulfate sulfotransferases. The resulting cell lines were screened for production of anti-FXa activity. Heparan sulfate production from a candidate cell line was tested in chemically defined medium. The recombinant product was characterized structurally and in clotting, anti-protease and heparin induced thrombocytopenia assays. Results: Engineered cells produced heparan sulfate in chemically defined medium with anti-Xa and anti-IIa activity exceeding the requirement for unfractionated heparin despite having lower sulfate content. Chain length was longer than unfractionated heparin. Additionally, binding to platelet factor 4 was reduced compared to unfractionated heparin, suggesting less risk of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. Conclusion: These results demonstrate the feasibility of producing a substitute for unfractionated heparin from recombinant cell culture. Additionally, recombinant technology may allowmore »production of heparin substitutes with improved properties such as reduced side effects.« less
  2. With the increased prevalence of new SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, such as Delta and Omicron, the COVID-19 pandemic has become an ongoing human health disaster, killing millions worldwide. SARS-CoV-2 invades its host through the interaction of its spike (S) protein with a host cell receptor, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). In addition, heparan sulfate (HS) on the surface of host cells plays an important role as a co-receptor for this viral pathogen–host cell interaction. Our previous studies demonstrated that many sulfated glycans, such as heparin, fucoidans, and rhamnan sulfate have anti-SARS-CoV-2 activities. In the current study, a small library of sulfated glycans and highly negatively charged compounds, including pentosan polysulfate (PPS), mucopolysaccharide polysulfate (MPS), sulfated lactobionic acid, sulodexide, and defibrotide, was assembled and evaluated for binding to the S-proteins and inhibition of viral infectivity in vitro. These compounds inhibited the interaction of the S-protein receptor-binding domain (RBD) (wild type and different variants) with immobilized heparin, a highly sulfated HS, as determined using surface plasmon resonance (SPR). PPS and MPS showed the strongest inhibition of interaction of heparin and S-protein RBD. The competitive binding studies showed that the IC50 of PPS and MPS against the S-protein RBD binding to immobilized heparin wasmore »~35 nM and ~9 nM, respectively, much lower than the IC50 for soluble heparin (IC50 = 56 nM). Both PPS and MPS showed stronger inhibition than heparin on the S-protein RBD or spike pseudotyped lentiviral particles binding to immobilized heparin. Finally, in an in vitro cell-based assay, PPS and MPS exhibited strong antiviral activities against pseudotyped viral particles of SARS-CoV-2 containing wild-type or Delta S-proteins.« less
  3. The COVID-19 pandemic is a major human health concern. The pathogen responsible for COVID-19, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), invades its host through the interaction of its spike (S) protein with a host cell receptor, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). In addition to ACE2, heparan sulfate (HS) on the surface of host cells also plays a significant role as a co-receptor. Our previous studies demonstrated that sulfated glycans, such as heparin and fucoidans, show anti-COVID-19 activities. In the current study, rhamnan sulfate (RS), a polysaccharide with a rhamnose backbone from a green seaweed, Monostroma nitidum, was evaluated for binding to the S-protein from SARS-CoV-2 and inhibition of viral infectivity in vitro. The structural characteristics of RS were investigated by determining its monosaccharide composition and performing two-dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance. RS inhibition of the interaction of heparin, a highly sulfated HS, with the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (from wild type and different mutant variants) was studied using surface plasmon resonance (SPR). In competitive binding studies, the IC50 of RS against the S-protein receptor binding domain (RBD) binding to immobilized heparin was 1.6 ng/mL, which is much lower than the IC50 for heparin (~750 ng/mL). RS showed stronger inhibition than heparin onmore »the S-protein RBD or pseudoviral particles binding to immobilized heparin. Finally, in an in vitro cell-based assay, RS showed strong antiviral activities against wild type SARS-CoV-2 and the delta variant.« less
  4. Heparin is an essential anticoagulant used for treating and preventing thrombosis. However, the complexity of heparin has hindered the development of a recombinant source, making its supply dependent on a vulnerable animal population. In nature, heparin is produced exclusively in mast cells, which are not suitable for commercial production, but mastocytoma cells are readily grown in culture and make heparan sulfate, a closely related glycosaminoglycan that lacks anticoagulant activity. Using gene expression profiling of mast cells as a guide, a multiplex genome engineering strategy was devised to produce heparan sulfate with high anticoagulant potency and to eliminate contaminating chondroitin sulfate from mastocytoma cells. The heparan sulfate purified from engineered cells grown in chemically defined medium has anticoagulant potency that exceeds porcinederived heparin and confers anticoagulant activity to the blood of healthy mice. This work demonstrates the feasibility of producing recombinant heparin from mammalian cell culture as an alternative to animal sources.
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